Islandia residents demand different cable provider

A Verizon technician installs a device, known as A Verizon technician installs a device, known as an optical network terminal (ONT), as part of the installation of all-fiber FiOS Internet and FiOS TV at a customer's house. (July 20, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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For several years now, some residents in Islandia have phoned village hall with a request: Get Verizon FiOS cable.

Mayor Allan M. Dorman says he's tried, in vain, to lure the cable provider to the village. But he says a potential deal died in recent years when Verizon refused to pay a franchise fee to the village to operate -- an accusation the company declined to address.

Village residents "are calling up and saying, 'I want FiOS,' and Verizon's telling them, 'Your mayor won't allow us in,' " Dorman said. "They think they can apply pressure. I eat pressure like I eat breakfast. It's not going to happen."

Verizon's absence in Islandia has dismayed some residents.

Reno J. Staffa said he's received mailers from Verizon and wants to sign up for the company's "Triple Play" service. "If I had FiOS, I could switch over and save some more money, and the service is better," Staffa said.

In an emailed statement, a Verizon official said the company operates in 182 municipalities in the state. "Each of those franchise agreements has their own set of requirements and commitments," wrote spokesman John J. Bonomo. "We are currently focused on ensuring we meet our commitments in regards to those franchise requirements and are not actively seeking new agreements."

He said if Islandia residents receive advertisements, they "may simply be a bleed over from another community."

While Long Island has long been dominated by Cablevision -- which owns Newsday -- Verizon, the telecommunications giant, has in recent years sold services to all three Nassau County towns as well as Babylon, Huntington, Smithtown and Islip in Suffolk.

In 2008, for example, Verizon entered into an agreement with Babylon to pay the town a franchise fee of 5 percent of gross revenue to operate. Dorman would not say how much he sought from Verizon. He said Cablevision pays the village about $60,000 annually.

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